It would have been extremely unreasonable to believe Logan Sargeant would be fast out of the gate in Formula 1.
This past weekend, Oscar Piastri became the first rookie in six years to take a step on a podium. Rookie drivers have always had a bit of a rough go at it in F1, but the testing ban of modern F1 cars in 2009 has severely limited just how prepared they can be. Long gone are the days of Lewis Hamilton undergoing an extensive testing program before walking into the sport and outperforming peak Fernando Alonso.
Considering all of the factors heading into this season, there was no reason to assume Sargeant would be very competitive with teammate Alex Albon. The Williams is a team in the backfield, Sargeant entered F1 without too much of a single-seater resume, Albon started to prove his potential in the Williams last year.
But there’s usually a least a hint or two as to a rookie’s potential during the season, and that has not been the case with Sargeant at all so far. If anything, he’s gotten worse as the year has gone on, which is not a good sign at all for any young athlete.
And him versus Albon? Oh God. This is an extreme content warning, if you are under the age of 120 note that viewer discretion is advised for the following two tweets.
Forget that Albon is leading the points battle 21 to 0, or even that Albon has beaten Sargeant 14 times in races. To be fully fair to the American driver, this is an inaccurate stat that doesn’t take into account times Williams did mess up with him like the mechanical failure at Zandvoort or the bad strategy call at Monza.
No, the most damning aspect of that is Albon’s perfect qualifying record.
But even still, that’s not the most ridiculous stat comparison between the two. This one might be:
Now keep in mind that Albon’s 95.9% is ahead of three of the most visible discrepancies on the grid: Alonso over Lance Stroll (which is actively dragging Aston Martin out of runner-up contention in constructor points), Yuki Tsunoda over a now-fired Nyck de Vries, and Max Verstappen over a perpetually on-the-hot-seat Sergio Perez.
Then there is the eye test, and it really has not looked well throughout this season.
Question time for the class: who are generally considered the three worst F1 drivers within the past five or so years prior to 2023? Now, there are plenty of candidates, some obvious and some less so. Let’s look at perhaps the three least controversial picks this side of Lance Stroll: Robert Kubica, Nikita Mazepin and Nicholas Latifi.
It breaks my heart to put Kubica on the list, and Williams did him absolutely no favors with the tractor they showed up with in 2019, but the Pole’s brief comeback to F1 was not a successful one. The man will deny that his many injuries from his infamous 2011 rally crash played a factor on the year, but the once promising Polish driver proved a shell of himself and was soundly defeated by a rookie George Russell in the other Williams.
In spite of Russell winning the qualifying battle 17-3 and the race battle 17-4, Kubica was still able to at least score the team’s only point of the season. There was at least one bright spot on the year for him.
It’s not too fair to compare Mazepin to Sargeant, considering Mazepin did not leave a good impression whatsoever on F1 as a whole while the jury is still out for Sargeant. And Mazepin’s Haas teammate Mick Schumacher was still able to crush him fairly easily. But, at the absolute least, Mazepin could hang his hat on keeping Schumacher honest with only a 15-6 loss in races.
Russell crushed Latifi in 2020, but Latifi was able to take advantage of Russell’s race weakness and kept the race head-to-head at 11-6. Russell improved to 16-6 in 2021, but Latifi was also able to improve in qualifying, “only” losing 16-6 to Mr. Saturday.
Albon then came in last year and ended Latifi’s F1 career in very decisive fashion, but Latifi still put up more of a fight in both races (17-4) and qualifying (18-3) then his replacement has against the same driver this year.
Again, I need to stress that nobody was expecting Sargeant to run in and compete with Albon from day one like Russell did against Kubica. But there’s a fair argument one can make where Latifi showed more promise than Sargeant has. That is a massive, massive failure and thus I cannot condone the team retaining the American for another season.
Yes, Williams has invested a lot into Sargeant. Yes, Sargeant becoming a successful driver could mean big business for both Williams and F1. But something has got to give here, especially with all of the talent likely not racing in F1 next year.
Theo Pourchaire is about to win the F2 championship and go put on a headset next year for Sauber. He’ll be joined on the sidelines by 2022 F2 champion Felipe Drugovich, who has spent this entire season just watching from the Aston Martin pit wall and will likely do so again next year. Liam Lawson, who has stolen the show at AlphaTauri this year, will complete the triumvirate over at the Red Bull/AlphaTauri garages.
Should Sargeant really stay in F1 over any of those three drivers, all of whom have objectively accomplished more in their careers than he has? No. And even though all three of those drivers are tied to other F1 teams, Williams is willing to loan out a race seat for the right price. They did it for Albon and almost did it for Piastri for this year.
Sargeant will still get a chance to turn it around this year, and will likely get another year to try and prove his worth in the F1 paddock. But he thus far has proven he does not deserve it. At least Scott Speed finished ninth twice in his F1 career.
About the author
Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.
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